In recent years, AMD has been on the rise when it comes to desktop processors and graphics cards. It stepped up on the ladder, turning from a company that sold affordable processors, weaker than Intel’s, into a company that gave us the seriously impressive Ryzen CPUs. They managed to become just as fast as Intel’s processors, both in single-core performance and multi-threading. However, although Intel struggled to keep up with AMD, the tables turned again in 2022. The 12th Gen Alder Lake and 13th Gen Raptor Lake Intel Core processors shook the market once again, successfully competing with AMD’s Zen 3 and Zen 4 Ryzen series. Both Team Red and Team Blue are now offering amazing desktop CPU lineups, so choosing one instead of the other is more difficult than ever. Which is better in the Intel vs. AMD standoff? Should you buy an AMD Ryzen 7000 series or a 13th Gen Intel Core? Considering that, right now, they’re sold with notable discounts, should you keep your budget in check by choosing a Ryzen 5000 processor or a 12th Gen Intel Core? Read on and find out:
NOTE: We teamed up with our friends from the TechniQualities YouTube channel and made this video which covers all the information from this article. If you prefer reading, and checking all the data we provide, simply scroll below it.
Both AMD and Intel have capable processors; there’s no question about it. However, when it comes to specs, there are some differences between them. While Intel was almost always first in technological advances in the past, with AMD overshadowing it in the last couple of years, both companies seem equally advanced today. AMD has switched to the 7-nanometer manufacturing process for Zen 3 processors and carried on even further with 5-nanometer and 6-nanometer processes for the Zen 4 CPUs (their Ryzen 7000 series). At the same time, while Intel still uses 10-nanometer for their 12th and 13th Gen Core processors, the company tweaked the architecture in such a way that it can (out)match AMD’s models.
AMD’s Zen 3 and Zen 4 architectures, used for the Ryzen 5000 and 7000 series, are composed of one or two core complex dies (CCD). On the other hand, Intel’s Alder Lake 12 Gen Core processors utilize a hybrid architecture that allows the company to make CPUs that can simultaneously include high-performance cores and power-efficient cores, similar to the processors found on smartphones.
All that leads to a series of benefits for both AMD’s Ryzen processors and their Intel counterparts. On the one hand, because of the smaller manufacturing process, Ryzen CPUs usually have an increased density of transistors per mm² (just over double), generate less heat (lower TDP), and require less electricity than similar Intel CPUs.
On the other hand, Intel Core processors are able to use their high-performance cores for demanding tasks (like games, for example) and their efficient cores for less demanding ones. This means that Intel processors' performance, heat, and TDP can vary a lot depending on what you’re doing. They can stay cool and power-efficient during office work, for instance, but they can significantly increase their performance at the cost of much more power consumed and more heat created when you run intensive applications, like games or video editing applications.
Intel has a tradition of delivering desktop processors with incredible single-core speeds, and that’s still true for the 12th Gen and especially the 13th Gen Core lineup. Some reach and even go over 5.0 GHz, for example. The fastest of the bunch is the Intel Core i9-13900K, which can reach a top speed of 5.70 GHz!
However, Zen 3 AMD processors are not far behind, reaching similar single-core speeds and performance. Even more, all the Ryzen 7000 launched thus far, built on AMD’s latest Zen 4 architecture, feature maximum turbo speeds of over 5.0 GHz! And the most powerful of them all is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, which can run at a maximum speed of 5.70 GHz (the same as Intel’s 13900K)!
Both the Zen 3 and the Zen 4 architectures make Ryzen 5000 and Ryzen 7000 processors capable of delivering higher boost clocks than ever before. Ryzen 5000 CPUs promised and offered up to 19% more IPC (instructions per cycle/clock) than previous Zen 2 Ryzen 3000 processors and a lower cache latency. And the Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 CPUs come with ~13% IPC uplift over predecessors and up to 29% higher single-thread performance!
Intel’s 12th Gen Core lineup also features a similar 19% increase in instructions per cycle/clock compared to the 11th Gen Core CPUs, and the hybrid architecture delivers incredible levels of performance, more than what AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors can offer. Furthermore, the company said that its latest Raptor Lake processors can deliver up to 15% more single-thread performance and up to 41% more multi-thread performance compared to its previous 12th Gen (Alder Lake) CPUs.
Here’s a table I compiled with AMD’s current processor lineup, their technical specifications, and retail prices:
When it comes to cache memory, the 7-nm lithography allows AMD to bundle more of it on its Ryzen processors than Intel can. Throughout the AMD Ryzen 5000 and 7000 lineups, we get between 8 to 64 MB of Level 3 cache memory. Even more on the “3D special” processors designed for gaming performance, where AMD uses 3D V-Cache in amounts of 96 or 128 MB!
In this regard, Intel is a bit behind, with both its Alder Lake and Raptor Lake CPUs getting from 12 to 36 MB of Smart Cache memory. But, while AMD is better at mainstream, performance, and high-end processors, Intel is first when you look at entry-level models.
Most of the Zen 3 AMD Ryzen processors, except for a couple of entry-level models, feature support for PCI Express 4.0, and all the PCIe lanes on Zen 4 CPUs are PCI Express 5.0! Intel’s Gen 12 and Gen 13 Core processors come with support for PCI Express 5.0, too, but only for the x16 graphics port.
Newer versions of PCI Express offer a whole lot more bandwidth. Intel’s 12th and 13th Gen Core CPUs give you the best performance possible from present and future high-end graphics cards that are PCIe 5-compatible. But, other than that, the other PCIe lanes are limited to version 4.0, including the ones that go to the M.2 slots where you connect your SSDs.
AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series lags behind with support only for PCI Express 4, meaning that you can benefit from the fastest graphics cards currently on the market, but not future ones. However, AMD’s Ryzen 7000 processors are all-in with PCI Express 5.0, with support not only for the graphics card but also for all the other lanes that are connected to the CPU, including those which go to the M.2 slots for solid-state drives!
Regarding memory support, on the one hand, Intel’s 12th Gen Core processors support DDR4 RAM running at 3200 MHz and DDR5 at 4800MHz. But you’ll have to choose the right motherboard right from the start, as you can only use one type of RAM on any given motherboard. There are some designed for DDR4, and then there are others designed for DDR5.
On the other hand, AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors only work with DDR4 (3200 MHz), and the latest AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs only work with DDR5 (5200 MHz)! But that also means that you’ll need a brand-new motherboard and DDR5 memory to go along with the processor.
Take a look at the table below to see what Intel’s 12 and 13 Gen Core processors offer and what their real prices are today:
Last but not least, when it comes to integrated graphics, there are both Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors that have built-in GPUs. With Intel, it depends on the exact model of CPU you’re looking at, while with AMD it’s easier to know: most of the Ryzen 5000 processors don’t include built-in GPUs, but all of the Ryzen 7000 processors have integrated graphics chips. Having this option can be handy in some computer configurations built for office work, for example, so, in this case, it comes down to personal preference whether you choose Intel or AMD.
In conclusion, if you want to future-proof your computer, you’ll be better prepared with an AMD Ryzen 7000 processor, as it offers both DDR5 support and PCIe 5.0 for both your GPU and SSDs. A 13th Gen Intel Core CPU will give you about the same benefits, except for the fact that your SSD slot(s) will be limited to PCIe 4.0.
If you need to keep your budget in check, you might want to get an Intel Core processor from the 12th or 13th generation and pair it with a DDR4 motherboard. Or you could do the same with an AMD Ryzen processor from the 5000 series.
One of the most important questions on everyone’s lips is probably which processors have a better price per value. For regular daily work, both AMD and Intel processors are excellent choices, and both entry-level and mainstream AMD Ryzen processors come at similar prices. However, things are not as clear when it comes to performance and high-end models. Furthermore, it gets even blurrier when looking at the two generations of processors each company is manufacturing today.
Intel’s 12 Gen Core processors and AMD’s Ryzen 5000s are on sale, with both companies offering major price cuts for them these days.
If you want to build a computer for office work, you might not need or want the best of the best in terms of performance, and you might find cheap bundles with AMD Ryzen 5000 processors. However, that’s also possible with Intel entry-level processors, especially with those in the 12th generation. Furthermore, both can run on DDR4, which is more affordable than DDR5. So, in my opinion, when building office computers, the prices you can find at that moment should be a strong factor in your choice between Intel and AMD.
If what you’re looking for is gaming on a budget, you should probably go with an AMD Ryzen 5000 processor or an Intel Core CPU from either the 12th or 13th generation, but in both cases, keep on using your old DDR4. Or buy DDR4 if you’re building a new computer, because it’s more affordable, and motherboards that use DDR4 (both for AMD Zen 3 and Intel 12&13th generations) are also sold at lower prices than those designed for DDR5.
Last but not least, if what you’re looking for is top-notch performance in any workload, be that gaming, video editing, CAD applications, etc., then you should check out higher-end processors and pair them with DDR5 and appropriate motherboards. Regardless of whether you’ll go with Intel or AMD, be ready to spend quite a lot of money on either path you choose.
Intel’s Core i9-13900K processor is the best right now, so if you need maximum brute performance, get it without hesitation. However, consider the fact that we should soon see PCIe 5.0 solid-state drives surface on the market, and Intel’s Core 13th Gen processors can only work with PCIe 4.0 SSDs. If you want to futureproof your PC and be ready for what’s next, you might want to go with an AMD Ryzen 7000 series processor instead. The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, for instance, offers similar performance to the Intel Core i9-13900K and also has a lower power consumption. In today’s chaotic energy market, this is an important plus.
Check the following CPU comparison table if you’d like to compare the lineups of Intel and AMD equivalents. I tried to cover all the essential details of both companies’ current desktop processors, including real-world prices from the Amazon Intel Store and Amazon AMD Store (where a CPU is not available on Amazon, we’ve mentioned the manufacturer-suggested retail price - MSRP or the fact that it’s a CPU sold only through OEMs - Original Equipment Manufacturers such as DELL or HP), hoping to help you make an informed decision:
In my opinion, these are the essential things you should know about 2023’s lineup of AMD Ryzen processors and Intel Core CPUs. Which ones do you like more and why? Regardless of where your brand loyalty sits, which company do you think makes the best desktop processors these days? AMD or Intel? Use the comments section below to get in touch and let me know your opinion.